National Film and Sound Archive restructures

14 April, 2014 by Don Groves

The National Film and Sound Archive is shedding jobs and reducing its touring program and the number of events at its Arc cinema in Canberra.

NFSA CEO Michael Loebenstein says the restructuring is the result of increased operating costs as the archive continues to convert its library to digital, while its annual grant from the government has not changed.


“We are shuffling funds around to enable us to fulfil our core mission: sustainable, long-term digital preservation,” he tells IF. The NFSA gets approximately $26 million from the government each year.

He confirmed the workforce will be reduced from 206 to 178, affecting all levels and ranks at the archive’s headquarters in Canberra, the storage facility in Mitchell, ACT, and offices in Sydney and Melbourne.

He stressed there would be no forced lay-offs as all staff affected would be offered vacant positions, jobs that will be created by the archive’s new business model or redeployed elsewhere in the public service;  voluntary redundancy will be offered in specific cases.

The Arc cinema will be retained but the number of screenings will be reduced after the winter season. Appointed CEO in 2011, Loebenstein said the new programming model is still evolving but he foreshadowed a mix of events at the Arc in the vein of this year’s celebration of 20 years of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and revolving programs of material from the archives at the NFSA’s lecture theatres.

He noted operating expenses have risen, including staff salaries, suppliers’ costs and the costs of digital storage, while budgets have remained stagnant and the Archive, like other sections of the public service, has had to cope with efficiency dividends.

“To build capacity we have to move quickly in this digital environment,” he said. The restructure follows a six-month review and consultation process.

“To best fulfil our role as the ‘living archive’ of Australian film, broadcast and recorded sound, we need to adapt the way we do business to take better advantage of technology and of our relationships with partners in industry and the community,” he told staff.

“More than any other collecting institution, transformational digital technology can be used to position us as the ‘archive of the future’. But this means we need to re-focus what we do and how we do it, to allow for re-investment into building capabilities and capacity to operate better in this online environment.

"The gradual roll-over into a new suite of engagement programs will commence on 1 July and continue until the end of the calendar year, to honour existing commitments.

"Under the new structure, we will be taking some hard decisions to reduce our staff numbers. We are working closely with staff to manage this through redeployment, natural attrition and voluntary redundancy. I am committed to making this change process transparent and respectful for all."








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